Wheel of Fortune came to Lubbock looking for Texas Tech contestants late in February and they found one! NewsChannel 11 went behind the scenes as she competed, we visited with Pat and Vanna themselves and we watched America's game show from a new vantage point.
Texas Tech senior Amy Wooten says, "I was notified by mail probably two weeks after the audition. It was amazing. We were screaming and jumping everywhere. I called my mom first and she shrieked really loud. So excited." Weeks after auditioning, Amy found herself walking down the streets of Kansas City, Missouri whe to meet Pat and Vanna for Big 12 College Week. She says, "I got this card from my mom this morning. She got up really early with me to eat breakfast and it says I love you without the o's, so inside it says wanna buy a vowel?"
After much encouragement from family and friends, and after hours of practicing puzzles, it was time to meet the competition and of course practice some more. At 9:00 AM, Amy and some of Texas Tech's biggest rivals became fast friends and ventured together into the unknown.
With the contestants sequestered for hours NewsChannel 11 had a little time to explore. We got to take a look at Vanna's jewelry for the show... a heart stopping, breathtaking amount of diamonds, but the biggest thrill of all... Pat Sajak himself told us "I'll be very nice to Amy and I hope she does well." NewsChannel 11 sat down to interview Wheel of Fortune's two biggest gems. Vanna White says, "The real Vanna is real simple. No make-up, ponytail, tennis shoes, mother of two."
Vanna's glamorous on wheel, but off the show she carpools, bakes cookies and does homework with her kids. As for Pat, he'll just make you laugh. About College Week he says, "I wouldn't want to do it every day because the level would eventually drive you to have to take hostages and leave.. But it's fun to do."
All joking aside, Pat and Vanna both love the band, the cheerleaders, the excitement. Vanna explians, "When we get these college kids just jumping up and down and screaming and hollaring and just so full of energy, it's great." Pat says, "When I first started on the show 25 years ago, I'd see a young college gal and think 'ya we could go out' and now she's thinking 'ya I'd like him to meet my grandmother.'"
Of course the burning question is... where does Vanna get all those gorgeous gowns? She says, "We have local designers that send their clothes to the studio and I wear them and they take them back."
With that question answered, time to watch the glitz and glam of Hollywood come alive in Kansas City. Around 3:00 PM our Texas Tech Red Raider re-emerges and takes the stage for one last chance to practice. Then it's time for the real thing. Amy recalls, "I believe my hands were sweating and I was shaking and very nervous. I had knots in the stomach, everything was full-fleged."
If Amy was nervous, you'd never have known it, she could play with the best of them. She says, "I was just waiting for my turn and I knew it. I just spun a few times and got a little money and got it. I was just oh, exstatic. That was the first time I really got to meet Pat and it was awesome."
They may be big time in Hollywood, and they may work on the most popular game show in history, but Amy says everyone at Wheel of Fortune made her feel right at home. She says, "I can't even describe all the feelings. It is just an adrenaline rush all day. The most outrageous experience I've ever been a part of."
We can't give away how amy did on the show just yet. You'll have to tune into Wheel of Fortune Tuesday night at 6:30 to find out.
|NewsChannel 11 Special Reports|